It was the fad of the summer of 2014. Videos of friends and celebrities dousing themselves with buckets of ice water to benefit ALS research were popping up on everyone's Facebook newsfeed. (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a neurological condition that causes all the muscles in your body to slowly waste away, eventually leaving you paralyzed.)
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The premise was simple: Someone nominated you to take the challenge, you accepted (or ignored), you made a pledge to donate to ALS, and then nominated someone else.
To refresh your memory, here's a video of Tom Cruise taking the challenge on the set of Mission Impossible.
The ice bucket challenge was SO viral that critics dismissed it as "slacktivism" and said it had no real-world impact. Well, they were wrong. The social media trend raised $100 million in 30 days. And the money raised was directly responsible for a breakthrough discovery by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School: the NEK1 gene that causes ALS. This same gene is found in people who inherit the disease and those who develop it seemingly from nowhere.
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Now that research has pinpointed the gene, scientists will be in a better position to understand the disease, and find treatments that may lead to a cure. But even more importantly, maybe people won't be so quick to dismiss the next viral fundraising campaign that's for a good cause.
via Huffington Post and The Guardian.co.uk
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